Teaching Tips

How to Get You and Your Dancers Out of Your Midwinter Slump

Thinkstock

By the end of January, most of the country is a frozen tundra, the pieces you have been perfecting for months feel stale and your dancers are in a slump. It's time for a morale booster, people!

Never fear, we've got you covered with three different things you can do to help you and your dancers get out of your midwinter slump. Try them out, and see the life return to your dancers' sleepy eyes!

You're welcome!

Let us know what kinds of things you like to do at your studios to help you recover from the chilly end-of-January days. We all need all the support we can get!


1. Improv Therapy

Tim Allen, Home Improvement

What a gift improv is to a dancer's soul. Take one of your technique or rehearsal hours this week, and devote it entirely to exploring movement through improv. Consider using different genres of music and asking your students to take on the character of the subject in the song. Have your dancers spell their names with their bodies as they move from the back of the room toward the mirror. Turn on songs that have a glorious crescendo, and encourage your dancers to move in more and more youthful ways until the peak of the song, then have them transition into moving as if they were 80 years old as the song quiets and fades.

Freedom of expression through movement is a crucial aspect of a dancer's training. It is liberating. Give them the freedom to move, and they will feel recharged the next time you ask them to run one of their competition numbers.

2. Have a Class Party!

Most class parties are reserved for Christmas or the end of the year. Surprise your students with a "just because" party. It will be an exciting change in the monotony of their day-to-day. Provide treats, games and even a classic dance film for the dancers to enjoy. The R&R is exactly what they need to feel excited to get back to class.

3. Compile a Class-wide Gratitude List

Gratitude goes a long way in finding joy within ourselves. The more we recognize what we have been blessed with, the less time we have to care about the things we don't. Bring dry-erase markers to class, and make a list on the mirrors of all the things you and your students are thankful for. Encourage them to dig deep and find something about their fellow teammates that they are thankful for. For example, they could say something like "Sally performs with total abandon in this piece. It inspires me to let go of all my insecurities and give the performance my all." Make sure each student shows gratitude for someone else, and in return is paid a genuine compliment.

Teachers Trending
Alwin Courcy, courtesy Ballet des Amériques

Carole Alexis has been enduring the life-altering after-effects of COVID-19 since April 2020. For months on end, the Ballet des Amériques director struggled with fevers, tingling, dizziness and fatigue. Strange bruising showed up on her skin, along with the return of her (long dormant) asthma, plus word loss and stuttering.

"For three days I would experience relief from the fever—then, boom—it would come back worse than before," Alexis says. "I would go into a room and not know why I was there." Despite the remission of some symptoms, the fatigue and other debilitating side effects have endured to this day. Alexis is part of a tens-of-thousands-member club nobody wants to be part of—she is a COVID-19 long-hauler.

Keep reading... Show less
Teachers Trending

Annika Abel Photography, courtesy Griffith

When the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis last May catalyzed nationwide protests against systemic racism, the tap community resumed longstanding conversations about teaching a Black art form in the era of Black Lives Matter. As these dialogues unfolded on social media, veteran Dorrance Dance member Karida Griffith commented infrequently, finding it difficult to participate in a meaningful way.

"I had a hard time watching people have these conversations without historical context and knowledge," says Griffith, who now resides in her hometown of Portland, Oregon, after many years in New York City. "It was clear that there was so much information missing."

For example, she observed people discussing tap while demonstrating ignorance about Black culture. Or, posts that tried to impose upon tap the history or aesthetics of European dance forms.

Keep reading... Show less
Studio Owners
Courtesy Tonawanda Dance Arts

If you're considering starting a summer program this year, you're likely not alone. Summer camp and class options are a tried-and-true method for paying your overhead costs past June—and, done well, could be a vehicle for making up for lost 2020 profits.

Plus, they might take on extra appeal for your studio families this year. Those struggling financially due to the pandemic will be in search of an affordable local programming option rather than an expensive, out-of-town intensive. And with summer travel still likely in question this spring as July and August plans are being made, your studio's local summer training option remains a safe bet.

The keys to profitable summer programming? Figuring out what type of structure will appeal most to your studio clientele, keeping start-up costs low—and, ideally, converting new summer students into new year-round students.

Keep reading... Show less

Get Dance Business Weekly in your inbox

Sign Up Used in accordance with our Privacy Policy.